Starting a new business is exciting. Fact is, most ventures require two years to take off and to get to significant returns - to be all-in.
One of the top reasons bootstrapping fails is because entrepreneurs went all-in and ran out of money. In my case, it happened twice after 6 and 8 months.
There is no way to plan for enough runway in advance because you just don’t know how much time it will take.
The only way that ever worked for me is to first validate the idea (as discussed in previous articles) while working. And, when you decide to go ahead, either work on it after work, weekends, or do what I did - to work part-time.
There is no point quitting your job if you’ll crawl back to another job 6 months from now. You need to create a runway for yourself.
Here are some ideas for runways from my own and others’ experience:
- Start a services business in your profession that is in high demand. Either alone or with co-founders. Then use part of the proceeds to finance another business and hire help to move it forward.
- Ask your manager to go part-time. Enough to pay the bills and keep the family happy.
- Work nights and weekends where possible. This is a tough one. Not only does it stress you out, but it may eventually depress you. Not to mention the family is being neglected. Moreover, most intellectual property-based jobs include “everything belongs to us” contracts (which may not be legal, check with your local lawyer).
- Freelance for your time, and then, on free periods, work on your idea. The ideal would be if the concept is like a packaged service and thereby it speeds up projects you are already doing.
- Get funding from government programs (before quitting your job). Then combine it with part-time or freelancing (since usually, you cannot pay yourself from grants).
- If you ended up not working (or working partially), social security (where applicable) can sustain you for a while. No shame in that. After all, you paid for it for years. I would see it as government investment (Note: it all depends on what is considered legal in your area).
- As a customer, pre-order a big project and agree that the code will be shared between you to use it for another project. Most will agree that the code is meaningless if it is a custom project. Moreover, it can be an advantage for the customer since you will have a higher incentive to improve on the project.
- Some investors are concerned about new ideas. You can bootstrap and get some customers and then get back to them to finance you the rest of the way.
There are many other ways to get to the two-year mark, but it is essential to acknowledge that it could take that much time, even if you think you have the best idea ever.
If you have a family, the pressure will start after quitting your job. You must have a plan to pay the bills up to the two-year mark.
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Bootstrapping is Possible - Marketing and Selling the Demo
Bootstrapping is Possible - Producing the Demo
Bootstrapping is Possible - Developing the Concept
Bootstrapping is Possible! - Do Not Quit Your Job!